YEMEN: Number of IDPs in north increases – agencies

DUBAI, 29 July 2009 (IRIN) – The number of people displaced by conflict in Saada in northern Yemen has increased over the past two months, putting the overall number at more than 100,000 people, say UN and aid agencies. An update from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) released on 24 July said that in “June and July 2009 the number of internally displaced people (IDPs) increased by several thousand as intermittent fighting continued…”.

In June 2009, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) registered 5,000 newly displaced people, and WFP was continuing the registration of an additional 5,000 IDPs, IDMC said.

“In contrast to the extensive information available on displacement resulting from natural disasters, information on people displaced by the conflict in the north has been limited by access difficulties and the lack of a profiling exercise. There was consensus amongst the United Nations and international agencies in July 2009 that an estimated 100,000 people remained displaced,” the IDMC report said, adding, however, the total number of people may be higher.


Photo: OCHA
A map of displacement in Saada Governorate, northwestern Yemen, as of 3 July 2009. Some 130,000 people were displaced in Saada

The Saada conflict between the government and Al-Houthi rebels, who take the family name of the leader of the rebellion, in which hundreds have been killed and thousands displaced, began in 2004 and has flared up on several occasions since. As of June 2009, Saqayan, Haydan, Razih, and Ghamar districts in Saada were contested or under Al-Houthi control, IDMC stated.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in an operational update on its activities working with IDPs on 24 July that upsurges in fighting had provoked population displacement in numerous countries, including Yemen.

A map on displacement in Yemen from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as of 3 July said that based on Yemeni Red Crescent and WFP registration figures there were about 130,000 IDPs in Saada governorate, of whom about 70,000 were in Saada City.

About 2,500 people were displaced in the last two weeks of June alone, OCHA said. ICRC told IRIN on 16 June that an increase in clashes had displaced 3,500 people who had fled to Saada City.

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